Saturday, July 24, 2010

Organic Delights? Yes, Please.

Today, we went to a bioferia in the Parque Reducto #2. In other words, I spent my morning with Lima’s yuppies at the organic farmer’s market. We got a little lost getting there, but the minute we saw the lush panoply of lettuces at the first stall, we knew it had been worth it. My first purchase was a half wheel of creamy, glistening queso fresco, or fresh cow’s milk cheese. It was so fresh, you could practically hear the cultures working…ok maybe not quite that fresh. At this moment, I’m eating it on fresh bread with a little ají de rocoto and it balances the spice perfectly. This market had many treasures, including those lettuces (I picked up purple and green varieties), some delicate baby spinach, beautiful roma tomatoes that made the ones in the supermarket look like laughable impostors, yucca and every kind of potato, including something called olluco that looks like a fingerling except it is yellow with fuchsia spots. There was also quinoa, many kinds of beans, lovely pink radishes, avocados the size of my head, and some carrots that made my wrists look small (I admit that isn’t hard to do, but still).

Ok, I’m done with the rapturous listing. There were some highlights that we got to enjoy right there, like the sample of fresh queso de cabra rolled in herbs, which had such a delicate flavor that picky people might not even know it was goat cheese (I promptly bought some). And then there were the vegetarians. They had a stall selling some traditional Peruvian dishes such as rocoto relleno and papa rellena, except instead of a meat filling they had a quinoa and vegetable mix. They were also making some palm sized pizzettes with fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil and caramelized onion, on the comal to your order. I got a papa rellena with salsa criolla (red onion, lime, cilantro, white vinegar) and a little pizzette, and I had them add a slice of roasted eggplant to it as well.

Delicious. The caramelized onion added a little sweetness to the combo on the pizzette, and the freshness of all the ingredients really shone through. It didn’t taste like Italy, but rather like Latin America owning Italian flavor combos. It was refreshing because the “Italian” I’ve had here has been mediocre at best. The papa rellena should have been heavy, but was instead wonderfully light and fluffy, and the quinoa had nuttiness and depth as well as that scrumptious delicate texture.

Making it all even more pleasant and healthy, it was all wrapped in biodegradable, recycled paper AND the people where quite friendly and willing to answer all my questions about the names of things…though I’m sure they wondered why my education has been so lacking, they were really rather patient.

Eating these treats in the park, with the rare winter sun shining on us, was a Saturday morning worth travelling for.

By the way, the vegetarians have a café:

El Alma Zen: Cocina Orgánica

Recavarren 298, at the corner of block 4 of José Gálvez, Miraflores, Lima

Next time: The Second Best Sandwich on Earth, and why tripe in Florence still takes the cake.

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